The state Office of Marijuana Policy has signed a six-year, $540,000 deal with a Florida contractor to track the growth and distribution of state-licensed marijuana throughout Maine, starting with the recreational market expected to open this spring.

Under the terms of the deal, state-licensed marijuana businesses will pay Metrc LLC a $40 monthly licensing fee to use the company’s cloud-based inventory system, which uses radio-frequency identification tags to track the movement of commercial marijuana plants from seedlings to sale.

To comply, businesses must also buy Metrc plant tags and packaging labels, at 45 cents and 25 cents each.

Once the adult-use market has adopted the Metrc system, the company will work with the Office of Marijuana Policy to enact the track-and-trace system for Maine’s existing medical marijuana program, which has operated without such a system since its inception 20 years ago.

“We are excited to partner with Metrc,” said Erik Gundersen, the state’s marijuana czar, in a prepared statement Thursday. “Metrc is an industry leader, and their team is committed to delivering a product that will allow us to proceed with the launch of our adult-use program later this spring.”

Metrc holds 12 other state marijuana track-and-trace contracts, including one with Massachusetts.


Maine has its own history with Metrc. Last year, Gundersen inked a $150,000 track-and-trace deal with Metrc only to cancel it weeks later because of legal concerns about the bidding. Rival BioTrackTHC won a new $275,000 bid a few months later, but that deal fell apart in December, prompting Maine to return to Metrc.

In a prepared statement released Monday, the marijuana police office said it remained committed to its scheduled spring rollout of the adult-use marijuana market. State budget forecasters had pegged March 15 for the start of retail sales, but an office spokesman said by email Thursday that date was likely to be delayed, but for how long isn’t clear.

“We’re still on track for a spring 2020 launch,” said spokesman David Heidrich. “That’s what we’ve been striving toward since fulfilling our commitment to make adult use applications available by the end of 2019, and we remain on pace to meet that target.”

Seed-to-sale tracking systems help inspectors deter diversion of legal cannabis into illegal markets, both in state and across state lines. They also help regulators collect all taxes levied and the industry to track its own growth and tax contributions.

Some of Maine’s 2,600 medical cannabis caregivers complained about Metrc’s $40 monthly fee to use the system last year when Maine first awarded it the track-and-trace deal. The state lawmakers who rewrote the medical law to mandate inventory tracking there, too, said Maine would pick up that tab.

Starting next month, the state and Metrc will begin holding regional meetings with future adult-use business licensees to introduce them to the online platform and answer questions. They will follow up with online trainings and evaluations before issuing credentials to prospective licensees.

All adult-use marijuana businesses must have a credentialed track-and-trace administrator before getting an active marijuana business license from the state, Heidrich said. The state is currently evaluating provisional business license applications, which is the first step in a three-step licensing process.

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